Hyperpigmentation is the deposition of melanin (skin pigment) due to the stimulation of melanogenesis.
Melanogenesis is the process by which pigment is produced and duplicated in the skin. It is the end result of the immune system triggering an inflammatory response in the skin, which then triggers the pigment producing cell known as melanocytes to protect the skin’s DNA from damage and mutation.
This process is instigated by any hormonal trigger or cutaneous inflammation, such as sun exposure, heat, trauma, acne and hormonal fluctuations.
There are 4 main types of pigmentation categories for pigmentation in skin due to their causes.
Hyperpigmentation that is considered UV-induced can be caused by overexposure to sun, tanning beds, and fluorescent and ambient lighting. This type of hyperpigmentation usually presents as diffuse spots or macules that are evenly distributed around the face
Hormonally induced hyperpigmentation
Melasma - Any hormone fluctuation can induce hyperpigmentation. The term melasma comes from the Greek word “melas,” which means black. It is commonly associated with a fluctuation of hormones (pregnancy, oral contraceptives, thyroid dysfunction, menopause, or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and will worsen with UV exposure. It appears as large symmetrical, bilateral patches with jagged borders typically around the jawline, upper lip, cheeks and forehead.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
PIH is pigment deposited as a result of surface irritation, inflammation or abrasion of the epidermis. It is characterized by darkened areas at the sites of the trauma.
Post-inflammatory Erythema (PIE)
PIE is the scientific name for the red or purplish marks that acne can leave behind. PIE happens when the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) at the surface of your skin are damaged by things like inflamed acne, popping pimples, cuts, scratches and sunburn.
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